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Israeli Navy Shoots Two Fishermen

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    Dear Friends, We in the Free Gaza Movement would like to thank everyone who took the time to contact the media, our embassies in Tel Aviv, and the Israeli
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2 12:01 PM
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      Dear Friends,

      We in the Free Gaza Movement would like to thank everyone who took
      time to contact the media, our embassies in Tel Aviv, and the Israeli
      government. Your voices did make some difference. All of the fishing
      that were accompanied by international human rights workers today
      able to finish fishing and return safely to shore. The Jerusalem
      Post was
      one of the few media outlets that covered the attack.

      Tragically, other Palestinian fishermen were not so lucky. According
      to a
      report from the International Middle East Media Center, two fishermen
      several miles to the north were hit by Israeli weapons fire.
      Mohammad Ani
      Assultan, age 19, was wounded, and Hussam Assultan, age 32, was hit
      in the
      head. He is said to be in critical condition. For more information

      It is vitally important that we continue to shine a light on Israeli
      rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank, and continue to pressure the
      international community to take action so as to prevent tragedies
      such as
      the one that occurred today.

      International human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement and
      International Solidarity Movement will remain in Gaza, and we will
      continue to shine that light. Below are the personal accounts of two
      these brave activists.

      Israeli Warships Fire on Unarmed Palestinian Fishermen, by Vittorio
      "When at a distance, estimated by our fishing boat's captain, of 7
      nautical miles from the coast, we dropped our fishing nets and
      fishing the Israeli warships rushed to reach our position.

      "One of the warships positioned at a distance less than 200 meters
      alongside of our fishing boat, opened fire in our direction at least
      times during the day. It was intimidating fire directed into the
      but some bursts almost touched the hull of our boat. A cannon shot
      reached us. Making attempt of obtaining a radio contact was useless.
      Soldiers on the Israeli warship ordered, with the use of megaphones,
      area evacuation. And after that they were shooting. Sometimes they
      shooting before having ordered. Once they shooted to our fishing
      nets and
      tried to damaged it sailing directly on them.

      "Unfortunately our big mistake was not having with us neither
      cameras nor
      video cameras that, together with megaphones to be used exactly like
      do, I consider essential for our next fishing missions.

      "Despite these intimidations the fishing was rich and profitable, we
      brought ashore quantity of fish ten times bigger than the usual
      Palestinians fishers standard."

      1 September 2008
      Vittorio Arrigoni, Free Gaza Movement


      Israeli naval vessels shoot and wound two fishermen in Gaza
      by Rami Almeghari
      Monday September 01, 2008
      IMEMC & Agencies

      The Israeli naval vessels shot and wounded today two Palestinian
      fishermen, while on board fishing on the northern Gaza coast of

      Medical sources reported that Hussam Assultan, 32, was hit in head
      and that his injury was described as critical, while Mohammad Ani
      Assultan, 19, was hit with shrapnel onto his body.

      The said shooting on Gaza coast comes amidst a ceasefire between
      Israel and the Palestinian factions, Cairo brokered on June19, 2008.

      Recently, many of such factions have warned of possible collapse of
      the ceasefire due to what they say 'Israeli breaches'.

      Gaza's coast, according to Oslo accords of 1993, can be used by
      Palestinians within 12 nautical miles, yet Israel has grossly
      tightened restrictions on movement of Palestinian boats since
      June2007, as the Islamic Hamas party took over the coastal region.

      Navy fires at Palestinian fishing boats carrying int'l activists
      Jerusalem Post
      Sep 1, 2008

      The Israeli Navy on Monday fired warning shots at Palestinian
      fishing boats that were also carrying international human rights
      activists off the coast of Gaza.

      The fishing boats were reportedly several miles off the coast of
      Gaza City after they had gone to sea at dawn Monday to fish within
      Palestinian territorial waters.

      Six international human rights activists from 5 different countries,
      who had arrived in Gaza two weeks ago on boats with the Free Gaza
      Movement, accompanied the fishermen in the hope that their presence
      would deter the IDF from opening fire.

      The IDF spokesperson confirmed that warning shots had been fired in
      the direction of the fishing boats to prevent them from entering
      Israel's territorial waters.


      Erez Crossing
      by Donna Wallach

      "I along with others from Free Gaza Movement decided not to return
      the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty to Cyprus and instead to remain in
      Strip for a while to continue the work of breaking the siege.
      the time I am staying here I will participate with the others in
      actions in Rafah, Gaza City, and other areas throughouth the Gaza
      including going out in fishing boats to challenge the Israeli Navy
      preventing the Palestinian fishermen from fishing more than 6 miles
      In addition, we are re-organizing ISM Rafah, to do Palestinian led
      solidarity work here.

      "This past Friday a 64 year-old Palestinian woman from Beit Hanoun,
      Strip arrived to the Erez crossing accompanied by all of the
      members of the Free Gaza Movement. She has been suffering for seven
      with a tumor on her spine. Without the necessary surgery granted her
      St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem, she will become paralyzed and will
      in contant pain, from what I understand. We, FGM members, walked in
      of her as a protection for her to not be shot by the Israeli soldiers
      guarding their border. She was being pushed in a wheelchair. Slowly
      approached the Israeli side, holding our arms in the air and many of
      clutching our passports.

      "A Palestinian man was the liason between Dr. Mona El-Farra and the
      Israeli "authorities". Dr. Mona El-Farra was the main organizer for
      action of bringing this 64 year-old woman to cross the Erez
      The Palestinian man kept on telling us that we needed to stop
      because the
      Israelis told him they were going to shoot us. We decided it was more
      important to challenge the Crime Against Humanity of Israel not
      this woman to receive the urgent medical treatment she needed, so we
      continued to walk towards the Israeli gate with our arms up in the
      air. We
      finally reached the Israeli gate without a shot being fired, not a
      not a tear gas cannister or a sound bomb. In the end though, the
      heartlessly told the woman she had to go back home, but could return
      8th time.

      "On Sunday 31st August, we from FGM arrived at about 9:00am from
      the southernmost area in Gaza Strip, to Erez crossing, the
      area in Gaza Strip. We came to continue standing in solidarity with
      woman from the village of Beit Hanoun. We arrived late and she and
      Mona El-Farra had already left for the border. We gathered inside the
      crude fenced in area where all Palestinians and others wait for
      to cross the dirt pathway to arrive to the Israeli gate. We waited
      then we heard that the woman was turned back again, with ridiculous
      that a member of her family must accompany her into Israel to the
      hospital. This woman came back, yet was not defeated. Almost all the
      members of her family have been wrongfully blacklisted by Israel,
      that they cannot enter the Apartheid State of Israel. Finally the
      75 year-old husband was granted permission to enter Israel with her.
      he arrived to Erez and the paper work for him was filled out, they
      off to the Israeli side. We continued to wait in the heat to hear
      that she
      had crossed and was inside the Israeli ambulance that would take her
      the hospital and to her surgery which was supposed to have started on
      Sunday. Dr. Mona El-Farra told us that she continued to tell the
      authorities that members of the Free Gaza Movement were waiting at
      Erez to
      ensure that the woman would enter this time and that we were willing
      die, we would walk again to the border even if the soldiers would
      and kill us, we would do what it takes so that the Israelis would
      her to enter, which they finally did. The 8th time was the charm for
      very brave and courageous woman sitting in a wheelchair who defied
      Israelis with all of their gunpower."

      31 August 2008
      Donna Wallach, Free Gaza Movement


      Another Critical Injury in Ni'lin

      Dear All,

      Below is a report on another IOF shooting of an innocent villager,
      who was not in the act of demonstrating when the IOF entered his
      house at 3:00AM.

      But first, a word of explanation is in order about the issue that
      drives Palestinian villagers to protest against the wall.
      Palestinians are not demonstrating, as the media would have it,
      against the wall. They are demonstrating, in one word, against
      THEFT, theft of their lands. The wall makes it easy to do this.

      I probably have written about this before, but allow me once more
      to explain so that those of you who have not been here and have not
      seen with your own eyes have a clear picture of what Israel is
      doing. Israel is (a) stealing Palestinian land, and (b) urbanizing
      the West Bank. The wall is an instrument for doing this.

      The reason that this is possible is the relationship of the farm
      lands to the village. Palestine was largely agrarian, and the West
      Bank remained so also under Jordanian rule. But unlike in Europe or
      the US and other places in the world, the lands of a given farmer
      are not a part of a homestead—that is lands and an adjacent house.
      Rather, people live in a village, whereas the lands of the
      individual farmers are all outside the village. Thus it is easy for
      Israel to uproot all or most or many of the olive trees and other
      trees of a given village, and to destroy plots with produce, then
      locate the wall (or the fences) near to the village, cutting it off
      from the farmers, depriving them of their lands. Different villages
      lose varying amounts of their lands. Mas'ha (in the Salfit
      governate), for instance, lost approximately 92% of its lands.
      Ni'lin after the wall will retain only 10% of its lands.

      But this is not the whole story, since many of the villages already
      lost lands in the 1948-49 war and again in the 1967 war. The wall
      further reduces what has already been reduced in the past (see ISM
      report below for statistics on Ni'lin). In other words, Palestinian
      villagers are not objecting to the wall, but to its route through
      their lands, separating them from the farmers and from the village.

      The other part of the story is that most of the Israeli settlements
      that are built on the farmers' lands are not agrarian. This matter
      is not a transference from the land of Palestinian farmers to
      Israeli farmers. No. Most of the colonies are suburbs of Israel
      proper, and most of their inhabitants work in Israel, or work in
      their homes for Israeli companies. In other words, Israel is doing
      to the West Bank what it did to the territories on which it resides:
      turned a largely agrarian country into a largely urban one. Anyone
      who has not visited the OPT for the past 6-7 years will not
      recognize it today. And if this continues, within another several
      years one will find practically no agriculture and olive groves in
      the West Bank. If ever a 2-state order is established, Palestine
      will consist mainly of half a dozen or slightly more urban centers
      (e.g., Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin).



      Critical Injury

      Left-wing groups call for IDF probe into Naalin shooting
      Tuesday, September 1, 2008

      Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti says Defense Minister Barak,
      soldiers responsible for critical injury of mentally ill Palestinian
      in West Bank village should be tried by International Criminal Court
      in Hague. Rights groups urge attorney general, judge advocate
      general to launch investigation into incident
      Ali Waked

      Left-wing organizations have called for a military investigation
      into the critical injury of a mentally ill Palestinian by rubber-
      coated steel bullets fired at him in the West Bank village of Naalin
      on Monday.

      The organizations appealed to Judge Advocate General Avihai
      Mandelblit and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and urged them to
      probe the matter.

      Village Clash


      Mentally ill Palestinian critically injured by IDF
      Ali Waked
      Israel News

      Violent clashes in West Bank village of Naalin continue to claim
      victims: Palestinians report mentally ill resident wounded by four
      rubber-coated steel bullets fired at his head by Israeli soldiers
      during his brother's arrest. IDF says man tried to snatch weapon
      from one of troops, who fired one bullet in self defense

      Another tragedy in Naalin. Palestinian sources reported Monday
      morning that a 40-year-old Naalin resident was critically injured by
      Israel Defense Forces soldiers who arrived at the West Bank village
      in order to arrest his brother, who has active in the struggle
      against the separation fence being erected in the area.

      The injured man, Awad Srur, who is believed to be mentally ill, was
      reportedly wounded by four rubber-coated steel bullets fired at him
      point blank.

      Violent Clashes

      12-year-old hit by rubber bullet during Naalin riot / Ali Waked

      Anti-security fence rally in West Bank town turns violent yet again,
      as four Border Guard officers sustain mild injuries after being
      stones. Palestinian sources report troops' use of crowd control
      measures results in boy suffering light head injury

      The army reported that an IDF force arrived at the village in order
      to arrest a wanted man suspected of rioting and hurling a grenade at
      soldiers. The troops entered a four-story building. The brother, who
      the soldiers later learned was mentally ill, was on the first floor,
      while his wanted brother was on the second floor.

      According to the IDF, the brother went wild and was put in one of
      the rooms. The force went up to the second floor and detained the
      wanted man for questioning. The mentally ill brother suddenly
      arrived and tried to snatch one of the troops' weapon. The soldier
      fired one rubber bullet in self defense, injuring the man.

      The brother then closed himself in a room and did not agree to
      receive medical treatment, the army said. Other family members began
      hurling stones at the force as it left the house.

      According to Palestinian sources, the mentally ill man cursed the
      troops as they raided his family's home in search of his brother,
      Aked Srur, one of an activist against the separation fence being
      erected in the village.

      Family members and neighbors said that the soldiers fired four
      bullets at his head, although he did not threaten them.

      One bullet hit Srur's eye, causing him to lose it, according to
      doctors at the Ramallah hospital. Another bullet hit his skull,
      causing severe internal hemorrhage.

      The doctors and a paramedic who accompanied Srur to the hospital,
      Salah Hawajeh, told Ynet that his life was in danger. Doctors at the
      intensive care unit were attempting to control the internal

      'A normal person would also be irritated'

      Kassem, the oldest Srur brother, told Ynet that his injured brother
      can't even talk.

      "He stutters badly, and all he asked was that the soldiers wait
      before breaking into the house and rooms because there were people
      inside," he said. "At first the troops shoved and dropped him, but
      he continued to say to them, 'Wait, wait.' They must have thought
      that he was irritated with them, so they decided to silence him."

      According to Kassem, "Even a normal person, unlike my brother, who
      would wake up and see soldiers raiding his house, would be
      irritated. I hope a miracle happens and he recovers from this
      difficult medical situation."

      According to one of the family's neighbors, "The soldiers are
      scared. They arrive like thieves by foot, entering the village
      through the mountains."

      Another neighbor said that "the shots fired at Awad, who is mentally
      ill, point blank, show that these soldiers and this army have lost
      any trace of humanism and specialize in the most serious crimes
      against the Palestinians."


      Many neighbors flocked Monday to the Srur family home following the
      injury of one of its sons, Ayed Awad.

      Abu Mahmoud, one of the neighbors who witnessed the incident, told
      Ynet what he saw.

      "The infantry force which raided the house came from between the
      olive trees. Shortly before 3 am, they entered the Srur family home,
      located at the end of the village. The soldiers wanted to go up to
      the second floor to arrest Ayed's brother, Aked, but Ayed told them
      to wait until the women evacuate themselves to a hidden place.

      Ayed Awad Srur at hospital

      "The troops began pushing Ayed, dropping him and yelling at him.
      Ayed's son, Muhammad, asked them to be patient with his father,
      explaining that he is ill, but these pleas did no good.

      "The soldiers shoved Ayed once and again, until he and his entire
      family members – including his blind daughter who couldn't stop
      crying – were all put in a room. They went up, took Aked and dragged
      him down the stairs."

      According to Abu-Mahmoud, when the soldiers left, Ayed stood at the
      entrance to the house and yelled at them, "Leave my brother, leave
      my brother."

      At that moment, he claimed, one of the soldiers turned around and
      shot a number of bullets at him from a distance of about 2.5 meters
      (8.2 feet).

      "I quickly entered my house, while hearing the shots accompanied by
      shock grenades and the voices of women crying," he added. "I then
      went to the neighbors' house and knocked on the door. The soldiers
      shouted from the inside, 'Army, army, go away.' But they eventually
      opened the door. I saw Ayed dying there, and the house was filled
      with blood. The soldiers didn't even come to his aid."

      Kassem, the oldest Srur brother, told Ynet that his injured brother
      can't even talk.

      "He stutters badly, and all he asked was that the soldiers wait
      before breaking into the house and rooms because there were people
      inside," he said. "At first the troops shoved and dropped him, but
      he continued to say to them, 'Wait, wait.' They must have thought
      that he was irritated with them, so they decided to silence him."

      The IDF stated earlier that the injured man was shot while
      attempting to snatch a weapon from one of the soldiers, who
      responded by firing one bullet in self defense. The army added that
      the brother then closed himself in a room and refused to receive
      medical treatment.

      'No justification for shooting unarmed man'

      The Naalin incident sparked a row in the Palestinian Authority. Dr.
      Mustafa Barghouti, a parliament member, said that Defense Minister
      Ehud Barak <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-
      3418778,00.html> and the IDF soldiers who took part in the incident
      should be tried by the The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The

      Barghouti condemned what he defined as "the international
      community's silence in light of the ongoing Israeli crimes,"
      claiming that "Israel's brutal policy is aimed at breaking the non-
      violent popular protest model implemented in Naalin, Bilin and other
      places where Israel operates with unrestrained violence."

      The Yesh Din human rights organization called on the judge advocate
      general to instruct the army to launch an immediate investigation
      into the shooting incident.

      "There cannot be any justification for shooting a bullet at the head
      of an unarmed man during an arrest attempt," said the organization's
      research director, Lior Yavne.

      "Unfortunately, the Military Prosecution's policy, which prevents
      the launching of probes into shooting incidents, conveys a message
      to IDF soldiers in the territory that they can shoot first and will
      usually not be questioned later."

      '21 killed by rubber bullets'

      The B'Tselem human rights group appealed to Attorney General Mazuz
      and urged him to work to "stop the illegal shooting" and instruct
      the army to prosecute soldiers and police officers who have violated
      open-fire orders to the full extent of the law, as well as the
      commanders who allow the shooting.

      According to B'Tselem, an initial investigation into the Monday
      morning's incident revealed that two bullets had infiltrated Srur's
      skull and a third one hit him in the chest.

      "The security forces have adopted a practice of lawless shooting of
      rubber-coated steel bullets in the West Bank, which has led to the
      death of two Palestinians since the beginning of the year, and to
      the injury of numerous people.

      "Since the start of the second intifada, 21 Palestinians have been
      killed by the firing of such bullets, which are supposed to be
      nonlethal," a group official said.

      The organization said it decided to approach Mazuz following a wave
      of similar incidents which have taken place recently.

      "The repetition of these incidents raises a heavy suspicion that
      soldiers and Border Guard officers are systematically violating the
      open-fire orders for the use of rubber-coated steel bullets,
      sometimes with the knowledge and consent of officers."

      B'Tselem's letter to the attorney general included a list of 19
      incidents documented by the organization's investigators, in which
      they claim soldiers and police officers fired rubber bullets from
      very close ranges, causing them to be fatal. The organization also
      said it had documentations of incidents in which children were shot
      at and incident in which soldiers fired at Palestinians in order to
      deliberately cause injuries or punish them.


      For Immediate Release

      At approximately 3am this morning, the Israeli army shot a 40 year
      resident of Ni'lin four times from close range while invading his
      house. He is now in a serious condition in Ramallah hospital.

      Awad Srur, 40, was shot four times with rubber-coated steel bullets
      from extremely close range as Israeli soldiers entered his house
      looking to arrest his brother Akil Srur. One bullet was shot through
      his eye, another at his head causing large internal hemorrhaging. 2
      other bullets were fired into his chest.

      At 3am the Israeli army invaded the village of Ni'lin and entered the
      house of Awad Srur in order to reach the second floor of the building
      where his brother lives. Awad, who suffers from a speech disability,
      shouted at the soldiers repeatedly before being shot four times from
      point blank range. The soldiers then proceeded to arrest Akil Srur
      is now being held in Israeli detention.

      Awad was immediately taken to Ramallah hospital where his condition
      remains critical.

      For more information:
      Jamal (Arabic)- 0599969698
      ISM media office (English) - 02-2971824 or 0598503948

      For photos of Awad in hospital please contact the ISM media office

      To date, fifteen Palestinians, ten of them minors, were killed while
      protesting the wall.

      Muhammad Fadel Hashem Rian, age 25

      Zakaria Mahmoud 'Eid Salem, age 28
      Shot dead during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu on
      26th, 2004.

      Abdal Rahman Abu 'Eid, age 62
      Died of a heart attack after teargas projectiles were shot into his
      home during a demonstration against the wall in Biddu on February
      26th, 2004.

      Muhammad Da'ud Saleh Badwan, age 21 Shot during a demonstration
      against the wall in Biddu on February
      26th, 2004, and died of his wounds March 3rd.

      Hussein Mahmoud 'Awad 'Alian, age 17 Shot dead during a demonstration
      against the wall in Betunya on April
      16th, 2004

      Diaa' A-Din 'Abd al-Karim Ibrahim Abu 'Eid, age 23 Shot dead during a
      demonstration against the wall in Biddu on April 18th, 2004.

      Islam Hashem Rizik Zhahran, age 14 Shot during a demonstration
      the wall in Deir Abu Mash'al on
      April 18th, 2004, and died of his wounds April 28th.

      'Alaa' Muhammad 'Abd a-Rahman Khalil, age 14 Shot dead while throwing
      stones at an Israeli vehicle driven by
      private security guards near the wall in Betunya on February 15th,

      Jamal Jaber Ibrahim 'Asi, age 15

      U'dai Mufid Mahmoud 'Asi, age 14 Shot dead during a demonstration
      against the wall in Beit Liqya on May
      4th, 2005

      Taha Muhammad Subhi al-Quljawi, age 16 Shot dead when he and two
      friends tried to cut the razor wire portion of the wall in the
      Qalandiya Refugee

      Camp on February 2nd, 2007. He was wounded in the thigh and died
      from loss of

      blood after remaining a long time in the field without being treated.

      Muhammad Elias Mahmoud 'Aweideh, age 15 Shot dead during a
      demonstration against the wall in Um a-Sharayet - Samiramis on March
      28th, 2007.

      Mahmoud Muhammad Ahmad Masalmeh, age 15 Shot when trying to cut the
      razor wire portion of the wall in Beit Awwa on March 2nd, 2008.

      Ahmed Husan Youssef Mousa, age 10 Killed during a demonstration
      against the wall in Ni'ilin on July 29th, 2008

      Youssef Ahmed Younes Amireh, age 17 Shot in the head with rubber
      coated bullets during a demonstration against the wall in Ni'ilin on
      July 30th, 2008 and died of his wounds August 4th.

      Three others, all minors or mentally disabled, were killed just for
      being in the proximity of the wall:

      Du'aa Naser Saleh 'Abd al-Qader, age 14 Killed in Far'un when she
      approached the wall with her friend on December 19th, 2006.

      Fatah a-Deen Muhammad 'Ali al-Khuli, age 20 Killed near Habla when he

      approached the wall on January 22nd, 2001. He was mentally disabled.

      Mahyoub Ahmad Nemer 'Asi, age 15 Killed by a private security guard
      while he was in his family's plot, about 200 meters away from the
      path of the wall,

      on July 8th, 2005

      From the original 58,000 dunums of Ni'lin land (580 hectares) more
      than 69% was taken by Israel in 1948, while in 1967 44% of the
      remaining land was used for construction of the nearby settlements.
      The annexation wall, illegal under international law, will take a
      further 25% of the farming land that the village relies on for its
      income, and will make the once commercial capital of the area
      from the surrounding villages. This will leave Nil'in, when the wall
      is finished, with only 10% of its original land (less than 15,000


      'J'lem has agreed to release Barghouti'
      Aug. 31, 2008

      The Israeli government has informed the Palestinian Authority that
      it has no objections to the release of jailed Fatah operative Marwan
      Barghouti, a senior PA official in Ramallah said over the weekend.

      The official told The Jerusalem Post that Barghouti and several
      other prominent security prisoners could be released in the coming
      days or weeks. Barghouti is serving five life sentences for the
      murders of four Israelis and a Greek monk.

      But an official in Jerusalem said Saturday night that "the release
      of Marwan Barghouti is simply not on the table today." The official
      also said that last week's release of 198 Palestinian detainees
      freed "was not the first prisoner release and will not be the last."

      The question of an additional prisoner release will be one of the
      items on the agenda at talks in Jerusalem on Sunday between Prime
      Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud

      Olmert, who will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni,
      will stress Israel's desire to move forward with the Annapolis
      process with the aim of reaching a deal with the Palestinians before
      US President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

      Also Sunday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon will convene a special
      ministerial committee to draw up a list of 450 security prisoners
      Israel is willing to release in an Egyptian-mediated prisoner swap
      with Hamas in return for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who
      last week marked his third birthday in captivity in Gaza.

      The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted Hamas sources on
      Saturday saying that the movement is now demanding more than 1,000
      prisoners in return for Schalit.

      According to the senior PA official who spoke to the Post, Israel
      has agreed in principle to free many security prisoners, including
      Barghouti and Fuad Shobaki, a PA general who was involved in the
      failed attempt to smuggle the Karin A weapons ship into the Gaza
      Strip nearly eight years ago.

      The official added that Israel has also agreed to free Abdel Aziz
      Dweik, speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative
      Council, who is reported to be in bad health.

      The PA official said the release of Dweik and other Hamas officials,
      including ministers and legislators, would "further strengthen" the
      standing of Abbas and the PA leadership.

      "It's better for all if Barghouti and the Hamas officials are
      released as a result of our efforts and not through a prisoner
      exchange with Hamas," the official told the Post. "Hamas is hoping
      to score points by releasing Fatah and Hamas prisoners in return for
      Gilad Schalit."

      Abbas would demand in Sunday's talks with Olmert that Israel release
      hundreds of prisoners as a gesture on the eve of Ramadan, a source
      close to the PA president said.

      Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Abbas would demand that Israel
      release all the sick prisoners, as well as the elderly, females and

      He confirmed that Abbas would also seek the release of Barghouti and
      some Hamas legislators. In addition, Abbas would demand that Israel
      release Ahmed Sadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the
      Liberation of Palestine, who is suspected of involvement in the
      murder of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001, he said.

      Erekat said that the gap between Israel and the Palestinians
      remained as wide as ever, especially regarding the fundamental final-
      status issues.

      He ruled out the possibility that the two sides would be able to
      reach an agreement before the Kadima primary on September 17.

      "The gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions still
      exists," he said. "This is especially true with regards to all the
      final-status issues: Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements,
      water and security. Therefore, I rule out the possibility that there
      would be an agreement or a written document this month."

      Erekat added that as far as the Palestinians were concerned, "We are
      not in a bazaar or a market. We are talking about rights and we must
      ensure our rights in any agreement."

      Erekat, who is expected to participate in the Olmert-Abbas talks
      along with Ahmed Qurei, head of the PA negotiating team, said the
      two sides would review the latest developments surrounding the peace
      negotiations and the implementation of the road map peace plan.

      He said the Palestinians would demand that Israel start implementing
      the first phase of the plan, which calls for a halt in settlement
      construction and, according to Erekat, the West Bank security
      barrier, the reopening of closed PLO institutions in Jerusalem,
      removing IDF checkpoints and allowing Palestinian deportees to
      return to the West Bank.

      Palestinian Centre for Human Rights



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